OBSERVARE
Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa
e-ISSN: 1647-7251
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BUILDING INTELLIGENCE COOPERATION IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
JOÃO ESTEVENS
jestevens@fcsh.unl.pt
PhD student, researcher at IPRI-NOVA as a member of the research group 'Democracy and
Governance', where he is finishing his PhD in Global Studies (NOVA FCSH, Portugal) with a thesis
dedicated to the construction of democratic state punitiveness. Research Fellow at ICS-ULisboa,
as part of the research group 'Environment, Territory and Society'. He has a master’s in political
science and International Relations (NOVA FCSH) and a degree in Economics (NOVA SBE) and in
Political Science and International Relations (NOVA FCSH). He also has a postgraduate degree in
Intelligence Management and Security (NOVA IMS). He has developed research in the areas of
political demography, intelligence, security studies, democracy and punitive practices of the
State.
.
Abstract
European security is transnational in nature due to the interdependencies of globalized
societies. This gives rise to the need for cooperation and the sharing of security intelligence
between Member States. This article presents a critical review of the functioning of the
intelligence community in the European Union (EU), making a historical review that allows us
to understand whether or not transnational cooperation has been moving towards greater
integration. In addition to mapping the organisms that are part of this community, the article
relies on a theoretical framework of policy analysis to structure the challenges of intelligence
sharing on the European level.
It is argued that the EU's capacity to produce its own security intelligence is very low,
depending on the sharing of intelligence by the national agencies. Additionally, it is said that
the sharing of police intelligence is much more structured than the sharing of security
intelligence. Finally, it is concluded that the European intelligence community welcomes
different intelligence cultures within it and focuses its activities on diffuse cooperation that
faces the limits of national sovereignty, interoperability deficits, and difficulties in establishing
institutional relationships of trust.
Keywords
Intelligence, security, cooperation, intelligence cultures, European Union.
How to cite this article
Estevens, João (2020). "Building intelligence cooperation in the European Union". In
Janus.net, e-journal of international relations. Vol. 11, No. 2 Consulted [online] at date of last
visit, DOI: https://doi.org/10.26619/1647-7251.11.2.6
Article received on April 7, 2020 and accepted for publication on September 22, 2020
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BUILDING INTELLIGENCE COOPERATION
IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
1
JOÃO ESTEVENS
Introduction
According to Article 4 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), it is clear that It shall
respect their essential State functions, including ensuring the territorial integrity of the
State, maintaining law and order and safeguarding national security. In particular,
national security remains the sole responsibility of each Member State”. Article 73 of the
Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) also reiterates the role of
Member States in the implementation of their national security policies: “It shall be open
to Member States to organise between themselves and under their responsibility such
forms of cooperation and coordination as they deem appropriate between the competent
departments of their administrations responsible for safeguarding national security.”.
This legal framework is important for the achievement of intergovernmental security in
the EU, from which the practices of cooperation between intelligence services and
agencies emerge. As argued by Aden (2018), cooperation in the European intelligence
community is much more formal and structured in terms of police cooperation than
between intelligence agencies, mainly due to a legal framework for police cooperation in
terms of European regulation, with successive efforts to integrate into the revisions
introduced by the Maastricht, Amsterdam and Lisbon Treaties. Even so, the Treaty of
Lisbon, despite extending the EU's area of action in security matters, maintained the
principles of intergovernmentalism, first and foremost the unanimous decisions of the
Council and the possibility of brake mechanisms (Brandão, 2010: 60).
The difficulties are greater when it comes to concrete and operational action, despite the
fact that we see presidents and prime ministers signing treaties, publicly expressing the
need for cooperation between Member States to tackle common threats, or supporting
symbolic documents such as the European Security Strategy (Cross, 2011:76). However,
the security context in the EU has changed somewhat as a result of the various terrorist
attacks, highlighting the need for greater sharing of security intelligence between
Member States (Costa, 2016: 91). Additionally, the UK's exit from the EU requires a
reorganization of the Union's intelligence community (Glees, 2017; Hillebrand, 2017;
Segell, 2017). Thus, although European security has been following a path of progressive
integration in central matters of national sovereignty - terrorism, human and drug
trafficking, cybercrime, border control - blurring some divisions between the internal and
1
Article translated by Cláudia Tavares.
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external frontiers and accepting partial EU governance in these areas (Cross, 2011),
though cooperation in sharing security intelligence remains complex and volatile
(Gruszczak, 2016: 271).
Intelligence studies as a field is still under construction and has developed mainly in the
English-speaking context, advancing theoretically from disciplinary frameworks of Law,
History, Political Science and International Relations (Gill and Phytian, 2018). There are
many definitions of strategic intelligence, some more restrictive that limit them to a
process that feeds national security, others more comprehensive that perceive
intelligence as the product of a process that generates knowledge to feed strategic
decision with interest and relevance in different areas (Gill and Phytian, 2006).
Conceptually, it is necessary to distinguish between security intelligence and police
intelligence. The former has a strategic character, offering an understanding that
contributes to decisions, policies, and resource management to achieve long-term
objectives in order to guarantee national security. The latter are geared towards internal
security, particularly with regard to the prevention of violent crime and incidents in the
public space and may also fall within the sphere of criminal investigation (Moleirinho,
2009: 82). In the context of this article, strategic security intelligence is considered as
an essential element of national security and defence systems but is conceived in a way
that is disseminated among the Member States (Coqc, 2017). Globalization has brought
a broad understanding of national security, which now includes concerns about many
transnational risks, in addition to the traditional political-military threats (Buzan, 1991;
Hough, 2004; Williams, 2008; Kaldor and Rangelov, 2014), having demanded a broader
intervention of intelligence. However, the globalization of intelligence services has not
been so fast, and they remain mainly within national jurisdictions (Aldrich, 2009). There
are many intelligence agencies without the capacity to collect and analyze all the
available intelligence, first of all because they are not endowed with sufficient resources,
unlike countries with "big schools" of intel like USA, Russia, United Kingdom, Israel or
China. The cooperative practices among intelligence communities are the solution and
happen both at the national level - with other security forces and services - and at the
international level - with similar services. International cooperation is mostly bilateral
and takes place on the basis of common interests, shared intelligence cultures, historical
alliances, or geographical and strategic proximity to different regions of the world
(Rudner, 2004; Aldrich, 2009).
It is within the above context that it is important to assess the way in which security
intelligence is organized within the EU. This article is an exploratory research and takes
the form of a predominantly descriptive essay, which aims to answer three fundamental
questions: (1) What bodies and mechanisms exist for intelligence cooperation in the EU?;
(2) What are the challenges for greater cooperation?; and (3) What role the EU could
assume in this process? The structure of the article follows the guiding questions, there
being three sections, the first identifying the bodies involved in the process and how, the
second presenting a model for analyzing the challenges facing cooperation in intelligence,
and a third section pointing out possible courses of action for the EU. Methodologically,
the first section follows a comprehensive approach of the literature to map the existing
intelligence community as well as its evolution; the second part of Goodin and Tilly's
contribution (2006) in political analysis to introduce a model that allows to analyze and
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structure the challenges faced in different dimensions; finally, the third section relates
the two previous ones, in order to consider the role and positioning of the EU in this
process, following here an institutional approach. It is considered that the contribution of
this article derives, mainly, from the systematization of intelligence about a little explored
theme in the field of social sciences.
The argument put forward here is that there is a non-integrated and fragmented
European intelligence system, which depends heavily on the production and management
of intelligence by the national intelligence agencies of the Member States, pointing to an
EU intelligence community where national interests prevail and where different
intelligence cultures coexist. In this way, it is a system where some overlaps and
difficulties in sharing intelligence are noted, and weaknesses in the EU's position are also
identified, since the cooperation needed to face many risks and threats going beyond the
limits of the Union and even Europe. At the same time, the required action is mostly
local or national, placing the regional level in an ambiguous zone for the operations of
the EU intelligence community. Thus, its future seems to depend on the institutional
evolution of the community project itself and on a possible deepening of integration in
matters of national security and defense, as well as on the intensity and territorial
expansion of the main shared threat of the various national security systems: terrorism.
Without further integration of Member States' national security on an EU scale - EU
internal security - it will be impossible to think of a common intelligence system.
Nevertheless, cooperation and intelligence sharing (especially of the police) within the
European intelligence community will continue to be developed, with positive
contributions to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common
Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), even if they face some challenges, such as the limits
of national sovereignty, interoperability deficits and the establishment of institutional
relations of trust within and outside the EU area.
Cooperation and intelligence in the EU: the supranational bodies
Intelligence development in the EU has progressed at a slow pace, although relative
progress in pan-European cooperation after September 11 and March 11 is recognized
(Argomaniz, 2009) and, currently, after the successive terrorist attacks, in particular that
of Paris (2015). However, the production of intelligence remained centered on the
national dimension rather than the EU dimension, turning the EU intelligence community
into a project of cooperation and intelligence sharing between national services and
agencies, which is based mainly on a counter-terrorism strategy (Rudner, 2004;
Argomaniz, 2015; Den Boer, 2015). The European Union's Global Strategy 2016
highlighted the need for greater intelligence sharing and cooperation between Member
States and EU security agencies in counter-terrorism activities, as well as a strengthening
of intelligence production by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen), fed by
cooperation with EU agencies such as Europol and Eurojust (European Union, 2016).
There has been a framework for cooperation in the EU with gradual increases in
intelligence sharing and police cooperation with a particular focus on issues of violent
radicalization, terrorism and transnational crime (Feiteira, 2016: 286), also impacting on
the objectives set by the CFSP and CSDP.
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Intelligence sharing is led by the Member States on a voluntary basis, which allows for
variations in its intensity and modalities, namely in terms of not compromising privileged
relations of some agencies and intelligence services with other partners outside the EU
area (Walsh, 2008). Also, there is some mistrust regarding the quality of intelligence
produced by some services due to the dissemination of the collection and analysis
techniques that serve as a basis for the production of intelligence (Politi, 1998: 12;
Grusczak, 2016: 84). Trust is assumed to be the basic principle of cooperation, but there
are several challenges to establishing relationships of trust, primarily due to the secret
nature of intelligence production. Thus, cooperation on intelligence tends to focus on
issues such as cyber security, international terrorism and transnational organized crime
(Bilgi, 2016: 59) and to occur in the following bodies.
Club of Bern
It is a forum for informal and voluntary sharing of intelligence between services of
different countries, created in the seventies of the last century, generally meeting every
two years. Currently, all EU countries as well as Norway and Switzerland are members.
It is considered to be one of the main platforms for meetings between the leaders of
national intelligence services. Its agenda focuses on the holding of meetings and
conferences, where technical and operational issues of activities carried out by national
intelligence services are discussed. More recently, working groups have been set up in
the field of counter-terrorism and the fight against transnational organized crime, which
have led to the creation of the Counter Terrorism Group (CTG), in 2001. This group
includes the US and produces terrorist threat assessment reports, which are shared not
only between Member States but also with the Council of the European Union. It should
be noted, however, that this group operates outside the institutional framework of the
Union despite its rapprochement with it in the last decade, and there is no obligation on
the relevance and quality of the intelligence provided by the national intelligence services
(Walsh, 2006: 631).
European Police Office (Europol)
Like the Club of Bern, also in the sphere of police cooperation, an informal forum for
sharing intelligence was created which brought together several European countries in
the seventies, namely the Trevi Group. This was made up of a group of ministers and
senior officials from the Ministries of Justice and Home Affairs of the Member States,
often understood as a forum which fostered the creation of the EU Area of Freedom,
Security and Justice, enshrined in the Amsterdam Treaty. Europol came into operation in
1999 with units representing all Member States, which are responsible for mediating
between national security forces and services and Europol. The sharing of intelligence
from national offices derives from their own initiative or from replies to questions put to
national offices by Europol (Bilgi, 2016: 58). It is a fundamental structure of EU security,
supporting operations on the ground and acting as a platform for intelligence on police-
criminal matters. Its main areas of activity are the fight against threats from terrorism,
transnational drug trafficking and money laundering networks, counterfeiting of currency
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and fraud, and human trafficking. In recent years, Europol's role has been growing and
its areas of intervention expanded, becoming a key body in the fight against crime at
European level (Rozée et al., 2013). In 2015, the European Counterterrorism Centre was
created (European Counter Terrorism Centre - ECTC), following the attacks in Paris in
November 2015, which has been in operation since the beginning of 2016. Also in 2016,
the European Centre for Migrant Trafficking was created (European Migrant Smuggling
Centre - EMSC), which comes after this issue has been identified as one of the major
challenges in the European Agenda for Migration 2015. This center works closely with
other Union agencies such as Eurojust in the field of judicial cooperation and Frontex in
the protection of external borders. Although a number of criticisms against Europol in
terms of transparency and accountability have been pointed out (Jansson, 2016), the
production and open dissemination of an annual report is worth noting, the Europol
Review, which reports on its activities and the results achieved and also contains specific
intelligence on the types of functionalities and systems available to Europol from which
it provides coordinated support to police operations in the EU.
Standing Committee for Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI)
Another body contributing to intelligence sharing is the Standing Committee on
Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI), set up on the basis of Article 71 of
the TFEU to ensure that operational cooperation on internal security is promoted and
strengthened within the Union. To this end, it promotes the coordination of action by the
competent authorities of the Member States by ensuring effective operational
cooperation in the field of EU internal security, including law enforcement, border control
and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. It also assesses the overall direction and
effectiveness of operational cooperation and assists the Council in responding to terrorist
attacks or natural disasters. However, once again, it is not an operational body with
autonomy to conduct operations, nor to intervene in the legislative process (Caldas,
2016: 63). It is made up of representatives of the Member States, supported by the JHA
advisers of the Permanent Representations, and regularly informs the European
Parliament and the national parliaments of its work. Representatives of other bodies
involved in internal security, such as Europol, Eurojust and Frontex, frequently attend
COSI meetings.
INTCEN
The Intelligence and Situation Center of the European Union (Intelligence Analysis Centre
IntCen) exists under different names since 1999, being integrated into the European
External Action Service (EEAS) in 2010, operating daily and uninterruptedly. Its mission
is confined to the provision and analysis of intelligence, in particular early warning and
assessment of events which may have an impact on EU institutions and Member States,
in the fields of security, defense and counter-terrorism. It acts as an entry channel for
classified intelligence into the EU from Member States' civilian intelligence services and
agencies, much of its analysis being based on intelligence provided by national
intelligence services and agencies, national military authorities and diplomats in EU
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Delegations. Although not all Member States can contribute to the production of
intelligence, all will have access to the intelligence produced by IntCen. When sharing
intelligence originating from the national services for the IntCen, the former can define
that other actors can access that intelligence in addition to the main consumers of the
intelligence disseminated by the IntCen. That is, according to the principle of the origin
of intelligence, that which comes from national services can be denied to MEPs, for
example (Cross, 2013: 393). Its operational contribution extends, for example, to the
provision of intelligence on the destinations, reasons, and circuits of movement of
terrorists within and outside EU territory. In 2007, the capacity of the IntCen to analyze
situations outside the EU was strengthened through the creation of the Individual
Analysis Capability (ISAC), which crosses civilian intelligence with that obtained by the
Intelligence Division of the EU Military Staff, issuing early warning intelligence, crisis
response planning, and assessments of CFSP operations and exercises (Caldas, 2016:
64-65).
It is a body that produces intelligence in support of the policy-maker, in particular
directed at the EEAS, but also assisting the Presidencies of the Council and the European
Commission, while contributing to the CFSP and the CSDP, derived from its analyses
responding to threats from terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and
other risks and threats of a global nature. Nevertheless, it is a body that also intervenes
in the collection of intelligence, mainly from open sources (Open Source Intelligence -
OSINT) and residually by direct and face-to-face observation in crisis scenarios (Human
Intelligence - HUMINT), producing intelligence that would not otherwise exist. In this
way, the product of the IntCen intelligence combines its own collection, mainly using
OSINT, with the analysis of intelligence shared by the Member States, both civil and
military, and diplomatic reports (Gruszczak, 2016: 86). The product of IntCen's
intelligence is effective through the production of biannual reports, special reports (in
response to crisis situations or in an area of growing relevance at a given time),
summaries of support to the policy maker when requested and risk assessments, also
biannual, to which ad-hoc briefings with the EU institutions may be added when relevant.
IntCen is not a European intelligence agency, but it is the closest to it and has been a
key player in coordinating and centralizing intelligence cooperation at European level and
has gradually established itself as a producer of safety intelligence. As such, it is a key
body (as producer and consumer of intelligence) in the EU intelligence community (Cross,
2013: 395) and has assumed a growing role in European foreign policy over the past
decade (Fagersten, 2014: 97).
European Union Satellite Centre (SatCen)
As such, it is a key body (as producer and consumer of intelligence) in the EU intelligence
community (Cross, 2013: 395) and has assumed a growing role in European foreign
policy over the past decade (IMINT e GEOINT). It assumes itself as a military intelligence
body, developing its activities jointly with other partners such as the European Defence
Agency (European Defence Agency - EDA) and the European Space Agency (European
Space Agency - ESA). The main consumers of SatCen's products and services are, in
addition to the Member States, the EEAS, the European Commission, Frontex, and other
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EU institutions and agencies. Although GEOINT is particularly associated with the Armed
Forces, the truth is that there is a growing interest in the civil sphere, both for the public
and private sectors. The GEOINT produced by SatCen is mainly intended to collaborate
in humanitarian aid programs and missions, in contingency plans in crisis situations, in
the areas of border control, combating piracy to terrorist and organized crime networks,
supporting video surveillance networks, identifying military capabilities, controlling the
non-proliferation of chemical weapons and mass destruction, and supporting critical
infrastructure, including risk and vulnerability assessments. Note that the center does
not have its own satellites, so it uses the existing satellite images, often proceeding to
purchase them, for later analysts to perform the treatment of them. So: (1) on the one
hand SatCen does not command existing satellites, neither in their tasks, nor in their
positions; and (2) much less can it control the quality of the material collected, with
private satellites for commercial use often having lower resolution image collection than
could be needed for SatCen evaluation (Walsh, 2006: 636).
European Union Military Staff (EUMS))
The Military Staff of the European Union, like the Military Committee, was a consequence
of the Helsinki European Council (1999), which opened space for the establishment of
permanent political-military bodies, and was subsequently established in 2001, and since
2010 integrated into the structure of the EEAS. It is the only permanently integrated
military structure in the Union, bringing together a wide range of experts, who use the
contribution of military intelligence to the elaboration of the PCSD. Its functions include,
on the one hand, advising on matters of a military nature and, on the other hand,
planning, evaluating, and issuing recommendations on matters relating to crisis
management situations and the definition of military strategy. To cope with this mission,
the EUMS benefits from an Intelligence Division, which uses military intelligence produced
by Member States and other European bodies, to subsequently produce reports and
assessments for the Military Committee, the EEAS and other EU bodies (Walsh, 2006:
633). The Military Staff shall also monitor the management of ongoing operations and
the military capabilities made available by the Member States to the EU, identifying which
(inter)national forces may be deployed for operations conducted by the Union (Caldas,
2016: 66).
The challenges of cooperation: formal obstacles and ambiguities
National intelligence services and agencies have different intelligence cultures and
asymmetric resources, causing within the EU itself heterogeneous intelligence production
processes between agencies and bodies. With the growing expansion of the Internet,
there are estimates that place the collection of intelligence largely dependent on OSINT,
which proves to be a less complex, expensive and time-consuming way to do it when
compared to other forms of secret collection such as HUMINT (Omand, Bartlett and Miller,
2012). As far as intelligence sharing is concerned, recent efforts highlight a paradigm
shift, which relates to strengthening cooperative security in the EU. Due to the expansion
of national security agendas, it is impossible for small services to produce intelligence, in
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quantity and quality, keeping their budgets unchanged. Thus, cooperation allows, on the
one hand, the maximization of existing resources, avoiding, on the other hand, the
overlapping of missions in operational terms (Gruszczak, 2016: 88-89). From a security
point of view, the existence of shared risks and threats in the EU area encourages
cooperation and a common agenda, as in the case of counter-terrorism. Still, intelligence
sharing has sometimes benefited the EU's decision-making process more than the
effectiveness of a common counterterrorism strategy. This is because shared intelligence
has primarily fuelled European counterterrorism policies, with recurrent low operational
and tactical impact, areas where intelligence (operational and tactical) tends to remain
at the national level (Muller-Wille, 2008: 69). Although cooperation allows economic and
security gains, it also has an internal origin, which is determined by the nature of the
European integration process itself, marked by successive spillover effects. The
introduction of cooperation policies in security matters has determined cooperation in
adjacent areas, where the growing cooperation in intelligence with the development of
the CFSP is included (Fagersten, 2014: 103). However, cooperative practices face
obstacles in different areas, proposing below an exploratory model that systematizes the
dimensions and determinants of cooperation from the grouping of large contextual
domains that may affect a political phenomenon (Goodin and Tilly, 2006). Briefly, we can
frame the challenges of sharing security intelligence in five major dimensions: cultural,
security, legal, economic, and psychological.
Cultural dimension: different intelligence cultures
Cooperation tends to be easier when similar intelligence cultures exist, and more difficult
to achieve when intelligence cultures are substantially different between the countries
concerned (Born et al., 2015: 110). The intelligence culture depends on how the
intelligence communities legally register within the Member States and develop their
practices, with repercussions on different institutional designs, different articulations
between civil-military intelligence, different governmental guardianships, different
contributions to the internal security and national defense systems, or different
mechanisms of oversight, democratic control and transparency. Taking into account EU
countries, it is assumed that there are distinct intelligence cultures, which derive from a
differentiated political and cultural history among Member States, from which
divergences have emerged in the legal environments and political systems in which the
national intelligence communities operate (Graaf and Nyce, 2016).
Security dimension: the globalization of security
There are many interdependencies between environmental or public health risks, or
threats such as cybercrime or terrorism, for example, which require broader cooperation,
first and foremost including the US, and not restricted to Member States. At the
operational level, missions and operations have mainly taken place at the national and
local levels, or come from NATO, with the Union at an intermediate level, where shared
problems are often circumstantial and the capacity to intervene limited. The challenge is
then to find common goals, and action on cybercrime, counter-terrorism and combating
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human trafficking networks can be mentioned as challenges that currently unite all the
Member States, although on a scale of differentiated concern that is insufficient to
establish structured and broad cooperation in the long term. For effective intelligence
sharing within the EU, it is essential to formulate a collective security agenda that can
link the actions of Member States and their national intelligence services and agencies
around common interests.
Legal dimension: the Lisbon Treaty
The Treaty of Lisbon has led to an increase in IntCen's competencies and strategic
relevance. However, it cannot be ignored that the same Treaty has clearly inscribed the
responsibility of the Member States to ensure national security. Thus, this is an exclusive
competence of the Member States, where they maintain reserves of sovereignty, making
cooperation on security matters and, in particular, on issues associated with the sharing
of intelligence between intelligence services take place in an unstructured manner and,
preferably, with partner services. As a result, the EU's powers to act in intelligence
production or to require and coordinate intelligence sharing are still very limited, despite
the increase in the number of European bodies that are part of the European intelligence
community over the past two decades. The Lisbon Treaty presents itself as an instrument
of formal-legal blockage, which makes it impossible to achieve more integrated
cooperation, the development of networks and centralized intelligence sharing channels
in the EU, and greater harmonization of collection methods and intelligence analysis
techniques. A revision of this legal framework could speed up greater interoperability,
correcting some of the difficulties experienced in sharing intelligence within the European
intelligence community and bringing about efficiency gains.
Economic dimension: the expansion of the intelligence market
The importance of intelligence at the national level has today a wider spectrum,
consecrating a performance in different sectors that serve national interests. It follows
that the work agendas of national intelligence services and agencies present some
elements that are shared, but that go far beyond those elements. National intelligence
services and agencies operate in an expanding and very competitive market, and there
are several situations where Member States compete for strategic intelligence that can
help different national governments in their decision-making processes (Rêgo, 2015).
There seems to be a dual system, where there are areas where Member States'
intelligence services and agencies cooperate and others where they compete. For
example, both economic intelligence (support for government negotiations, economic
counterintelligence actions, support for national business strategies, etc.) and energy
intelligence are areas where national strategic interests are recurrently conflicting, and
where national intelligence services and agencies face a competitive environment. This
constant competition does not favor the broad, open and continued long-term
cooperation that is desired in the EU.
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Psychological dimension: the principle of trust
One of the fundamental dimensions of cooperation is trust, expressed through
uncertainty about what other services and analysts can do with the intelligence received,
the possible negative impact on already existing historical partnerships for bilateral
cooperation, or the risk of ‘free-rider’ (Muller-Wille, 2008: 62). How can a fair sharing of
responsibilities and resources between Member States be ensured to avoid distrust? How
can standards be set in the collection and analysis of intelligence so that national services
and agencies rely on intelligence produced externally? How to ensure the security of
intelligence shared in smaller, less resourceful centers? How to keep communication
channels permanently open, which foster interpersonal relationships of trust, and not
only occasional relationships in crisis situations? These are some central questions whose
answers have been characterized by volatility and uncertainty, which has created
difficulties in stimulating the desired relationships of trust. This may understand the
preference of Member States for bilateral intelligence sharing with intelligence services
and agencies with which the principle of trust is assumed to exist, as opposed to broad
multilateral action in the EU. Trust is the determining element for the success of
intelligence sharing, but it needs time to develop, through recognition of the mutual
benefits achieved in joint initiatives, as opposed to creating a formal model of
cooperation.
The role of the EU: status quo or greater autonomy?
The transfer of competence in the production of security intelligence to Brussels does not
seem possible soon, ceteris paribus. Nevertheless, the lack of full integration of
intelligence in the bureaucratic apparatus of the Union does not invalidate the expected
deepening of the security intelligence community in the EU. The development of this
community points to the development of a broad and flexible network, which makes the
EU and the Member States jointly responsible for the production and sharing of
intelligence within the Union. As Alessandro Politi (1998: 8) wrote in one of the first
reference texts on intelligence in the EU context, there may not be great advantages in
over formalizing the European intelligence community, as the flexibility of a network can
ensure greater efficiency in managing the necessary cooperation and intelligence sharing,
instead of trying to engage in the creation of a European intelligence culture alternative
to the national ones. If, in part, this argument can still hold water, it seems to have lost
momentum as a result of the enormous expansion of international terrorism, pointing to
several problems over a complex and insufficient intelligence network where cooperation
is diffuse, takes place at different levels, and does not present standard procedures and
practices (Argomaniz, 2015). Despite the effective gains from intelligence sharing in the
field of police cooperation, the integration of intelligence sharing between intelligence
se